Sunday, May 31, 2015

Black Girl, Light World XVII: I give up on beauty...



A part of me has been repeating this refrain over and over and over again. A part of me is reconciled to her fate, a part of me doesn't believe in this construct anymore. What do I mean? I mean that a part of me understands that what we perceive as beauty (as moving, as whole, as perfect, as transcendent)  is a social construct that is influenced, controlled even, by the values of a white supremacist society. A part me, (sometimes half, sometimes 60%, sometimes only 27%) knows that what it would take to make me beautiful I will never be able to do. I am fat, I am Black, I am dark-skinned and broad featured, with brown eyes, coarse hair, and "African titties" as the friend of a friend once desccribed them..

The truth is... I could erase some of those things. I could be smaller, trim, even thin if I wanted it badly enough. I could have long relaxed hair. I could wear contacts and contour the face I have now into oblivion. But it would cost. It would cost me whole acres of my soul, to starve myself to beat my body, to remake my face three times a day. To hide and always be hiding behind diet pills, and Spanx, and Mac, and food charts. And it might even be worth it. If I could actually accomplish and retain *Beauty*. If I could be beautiful. If people could look at me and feel within themselves what I feel when I hear Awaken by Dario Marianelli then maybe the little everyday deaths would add up to something living and worthwhile.

But that's never going to happen.

I loved the story of Jane Eyre as a teenager. I saw... if not my own face, then parts of my own soul in the character of the plain orphaned girl with a stubborn principled streak a mile wide, who grew up into a strange stubborn principled woman who was still plain and still struggled but won love anyway. I wanted to be Jane or at least be like her.  I hoped to find my own Mr. Rochester and live if not happily ever after then loved ever after. But as I grew older, it became harder and harder to fit myself into M. Eyre's mold. It became more and more obvious that I wouldn't have been Jane Eyre (or Elizabeth Bennet, or Anne of Avonlea, or Jo March or, or or...) It became more obvious that while Rochester/Darcy/Laurie/Gilbert Blyth would have married the women they did they wouldn't have married a Black woman with that same spirit. And if I'm to be honest that realization struck a blow, is still striking one, really. Because it's not jus that, it's that I am tired. I am tired because even the Black woman ideal--the Erykah, the Lisa Bonet, the Assata, the Angela, the Claire Huxtable, has no room for me. And I am left wondering if it's worth it to remake myself from the ground up. If it were out of love I could say yes. If I know there would be love at the end I would say yes. But what would be left at the end of that wouldn't even be love, would it?

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